Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has denied repeated news reports involving massive deaths in Darfur.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
19:57 MECCA TIME, 16:57 GMT
Sudan accepts UN deployment
Sudan has officially told the United Nations that it will accept additional UN troops and equipment being sent to help the African Union force struggling to maintain security in Darfur.
Attack helicopters and about 3,000 soldiers will be deployed as part of the second phase of a UN plan to stabilise the region.
The long-waited agreement came after John Negroponte, the US deputy secretary of state, warned Khartoum on Monday that it faced international isolation if it did not accept all phases of the plan.
"Sudan has accepted the second phase of the agreement of UN support for the African force," Lam Akol, Sudan's foreign minister, told a news conference, adding that this included the sticking point of deploying helicopter gunships.
Khartoum's green light came after Ban Ki-Moon, UN secretary general, last week reassured Sudan that the helicopters would only be used for deterrence, not for offensive purposes.
The first two phases of the UN plan mainly involve logistical and technical support, but Sudan has yet to give the go ahead for the final phase which would see thousands of UN troops deployed.
Negroponte used a five-day trip to Sudan to press officials to accept UN peacekeepers to support what is the world's largest humanitarian effort.
"We must move quickly to a larger, hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force with a single, unified chain of command that conforms to UN standards and practices," he said.
The US official also urged rebel groups to join peace negotiations and Khartoum to comply with a peace accord signed last year by disarming the Janjawid militia which is accused of atrocities in Darfur.
"The government of Sudan must disarm the Janjawid, the Arab militias that we all know could not exist without the Sudanese government's active support," he said.
Khartoum has always denied backing the Janjawid, despite accusations by the UN and the AU.
Earlier, the Saudi Press Agency had reported that Sudan had signed an agreement, brokered in Saudi Arabia, on the deployment of African Union (AU) and UN forces in Darfur.
King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, "received a telephone call from Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir in which he informed him that the Sudanese government has signed an agreement with the UN and the AU that determines the duties and role of the African and UN forces in the Darfur region", the agency said.
Sudan open to thousands more AU Darfur troops
KHARTOUM, April 15 (Reuters) - Sudan will take as many more
African Union (AU) troops as needed to stabilise Darfur but will not bow to international pressure to accept a U.N. force in the troubled region, its foreign minister said on Sunday.
Lam Akol reiterated Khartoum's firm rejection of
international troops in Darfur as visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte pressed Sudanese officials to accept thousands of U.N. peacekeepers to support the world's biggest humanitarian effort there.
Khartoum had agreed on a plan to deploy two more battalions
-- which usually number between 500 and 1,000 troops -- of
African forces but was now open to a much larger number to
support 7,000 AU troops in Darfur, Akol said.
"Of course some members of the U.N. Security Council wanted
a bigger number," he told Reuters in an interview.
"This is why we agreed to a technical group to go on the
ground and be assisted by the Sudanese government to arrive at the figure they want. And that figure we will respect."
Asked if Sudan would accept up to 10,000 more troops, for
instance, Akol said: "We don't have any problem if it is
determined on a professional basis."
In the latest sign African soldiers are struggling in
Darfur, gunmen killed a major serving in the force, an AU
spokesman said on Sunday, making April the deadliest month so
far for the African troops.
The United Nations is nearing a deal with Khartoum to add
3,000 U.N. military personnel and equipment to the AU force
under a so-called heavy support package but Sudan has so far
objected to the U.N. fielding six attack helicopters.
Khartoum is likely to accept aircraft, said Akol, adding,
"we are looking at it favourably."
At the heart of the debate is the outcome of a November
meeting in Addis Ababa. The U.N. says Khartoum agreed then to a three-phase plan that would end with a hybrid AU-U.N. operation in Darfur. Sudan said it only agreed to the first two phases.
Akol said Sudanese officials told Negroponte pressure over a
U.N. force would only exacerbate Darfur's humanitarian crisis
and he brushed aside U.S. threats of possible sanctions.
"They are free to impose whatever sanctions they want.
Actually at the moment there are U.S. sanctions on Sudan. If
they want to impose them, that is there business. But this has nothing to do with the operation that has been agreed upon."
Negroponte later held talks with Sudanese President Omar
Hassan al-Bashir, saying they discussed their respective views of the humanitarian, security and political situations in Darfur. He did not elaborate.
Experts estimate about 200,000 people have been killed and
2.5 million have fled their homes since the Darfur conflict
flared in 2003 when rebels took up arms against government
forces, saying Khartoum had neglected the area.
Sudan signed a peace agreement with only one Darfur rebel
faction last year but since then other groups have splintered, contributing to instability fuelled by feuding tribes, bandits and the so-called Janjaweed militias.
Darfuris say the Janjaweed are backed by the government in
their campaign of killing, raping and pillaging villages.
Khartoum calls them outlaws and denies any links to them.
The Darfur peace agreement calls on the Janjaweed to be
disarmed but Akol said only a comprehensive peace deal would
convince fighters thriving on chaos that has driven away aid
groups to put down their weapons.
"If the war is still going on how would you take away
somebody's gun? He will not feel secure," he said.
Asked how long Darfur's suffering will last without a peace
agreement, Akol said it was up to the rebels. But he stressed
they were unlikely to make concessions to a Sudanese government that is constantly under outside pressure.
"If they see that the pressure is only on Sudan. It is
always Sudan being condemned. ... It is Sudan being threatened with sanctions. They will not be in a hurry to look for a peaceful resolution because they will always think that the knot is being tightened," said Akol.
"As I told you it takes two to tango."
Chad apologizes for recent border clash inside Sudan
Khartoum (XINHUA) -- Chad apologized on Saturday for a border clash erupted inside Sudan earlier this week, which killed 17 Sudanese soldiers and wounded 40 others, Sudanese official said.
Abdel-Rahman Mukhtarm, the director of the African department in the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that Chadian President Idriss Deby made the apology in a letter to Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir.
Mukhtarm said that the letter was conveyed by Chadian minister of foreign affairs Ahmad Allam-mi, who arrived in Khartoum on Saturday afternoon as the envoy of the Chadian president.
"The letter contains an apology from the Chadian president for what had happened and his desire to open a new page in the progress of the relations between the two countries," the Sudanese official disclosed.
He said the Sudanese president showed understanding to the clarifications made by the Chadian envoy and affirmed his keenness to work together with President Deby to surpass the differences.
Mukhtarm said the envoy also conveyed the desire of President Deby to visit Sudan, adding that the visit would be set through the diplomatic channels.
Allam-mi also affirmed the regret held by his president after his meeting with the Sudanese president, saying a joint committee based on the Tripoli accord, a deal signed by both presidents in the Libyan capital last February to stop repeated border clashes, was investigating the recent incident.
He blamed the latest border clash on attacks against the Chadian armed forces by rebel militants, hoping that the Sudanese government would agree to sign an agreement allowing the Chadian forces to pursue the rebels into the Sudanese territories.
The visit of the Chadian envoy comes following a shuttle visit by Abdel Salem Triki, the special envoy of Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, who held mediation talks with both Sudan and Chad.
Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki also made a two- day visit in Sudan this week, during which al-Bashir asked South Africa to offer mediation help between his country and Chad.
Foreign powers 'pursuing hidden agenda in Sudan'
By Joseph Marques
Khartoum: The Darfur issue can only be solved with the implementation of the Abuja accord and not by replacing African Union forces with UN forces, said the political adviser to the Sudan president.
Despite some reports that Sudan may agree to allow UN forces, Dr Magzoub Al Khalifa, who is laso Chairman of the Sudan Government's negotiating team that signed the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006, categorically said that the UN forces are not the solution to an internal social and economic problem which has been made into a political issue by some foreign powers and international non-governmental agencies.
Speaking to Gulf News, Al Khalifa said: "The government of Sudan is very serious about implementing the agreement immediately and progress has been made in power sharing, security and development of infrastructure.
He, however, admitted that there were delays - as per the agreement it should have come into force within three months of the signing - due to various factors.
First and foremost, he said, the main groups or movements who signed the agreement first went to "Arab, African, European and American countries before coming to Sudan in August. Moreover, they have between 15 to 19 minor groups, which are not very effective."
Despite the slow start, Sudan was on track to solve its internal problem, he stated, but foreign powers put a spoke in the wheels by internationalising the issue.
"During the period of transition, the focus shifted to the replacement of the African Union forces by the UN forces," Al Khalifa said and this set a chain reaction leading to UN Resolution 1706.
Commenting on the remarks made on Wednesday by Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Democratic presidential candidate, for the use of US military force to end the sufferings in Darfur, Al Khalifa pointed out that it is part of a "hidden agenda".
He stated that it is no secret that US and other European countries are following a new path of exploiting the oil and mineral wealth of African countries and as such they are targeting Sudan, Chad and the sub-Saharan states.
"All these countries have a Muslim majority and they think that they are all terrorists. We all know what the US and its allies are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they won't be able to do the same with Sudan since they don't have the resources.
Respect Sudan, don't impose sanctions -China
BEIJING, April 13 (Reuters) - The world is not giving
enough respect to Sudan in trying to deal with the situation in strife-torn Darfur and sanctions are not the solution, an
official Chinese state newspaper said in an editorial on
"Harsh demands have been made of Sudan, but little respect
has been shown for the country -- one of the largest on the
African continent," the China Daily said.
"As a sovereign nation, Sudan, which learned bitter lessons
during the colonial years, aspires to territorial integrity,
national unity, ethnic reconciliation and regional peace and
stability," it said.
"Pressure to force the government of Sudan to abandon its
rights and the threat to impose sanctions will only aggravate
problems," said the newspaper, one of the Chinese government's English-language mouthpieces.
China this week urged Sudan in unusually strong terms to
show more flexibility on a peace plan for its devastated Darfur region, but said the international community would get nowhere by dictating terms to Khartoum.
China, which buys much of Sudan's oil and wields veto power
on the U.N. Security Council, has been criticised in the West
for not using its leverage to force Khartoum to act to curb
violence in Darfur, where ethnic tensions erupted into a revolt in 2003.
"There has been a lot of talk about sanctions, which
ignores the fact that the root cause of clashes in Darfur is
extreme poverty. This can only be addressed through continuous economic development in a stable and peaceful environment," the paper said.
"China has taken into consideration all the concerns and
worked with perseverance. It has been playing a critical and
constructive role in pushing for concrete actions to secure
peace and stability in the Darfur region," it added.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun last week met
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir as well as Foreign
Ministry officials and visited refugee camps in Darfur -- a
rare step for a Chinese official.
But while insisting its role in Sudan is constructive,
China has offered Khartoum increased military cooperation. Last week it played host to its Joint Chief of Staff in Beijing.
Still, China next week is playing host to Chad's foreign
minister. Sudan has accused Chad's army of launching an attack on Monday that killed 17 of its soldiers.
Chad denied any such deliberate assault but said its forces
had clashed with Sudanese troops after crossing the border to
pursue Sudanese-backed rebels it accused of launching raids.